Engagement & consultation

We're required to develop a new plan for freshwater in our region as part of the government’s work to restore and protect the health of New Zealand waterways.

As we develop the Freshwater Plan we will engage with tangata whenua and communities in a variety of ways.

On this page you can find out about the way we’re engaging and the opportunities for when you can get involved.

We’ve broken our engagement into three phases:

Phase 1: Pre-draft
(2021 – early 2023)
  • Getting feedback and advice from a range of tangata whenua, government, industry and environmental groups & organisations on what the Freshwater Plan should cover.
  • Awareness raising with the public about the plan change.
  • Asking people what they think is important about our freshwater and what needs to change (This will start in Nov 2022).
Phase 2: Draft
(Sept - Nov 2023)
  • This is when we share our draft Freshwater Plan with the public for feedback. This will be our main engagement phase with tangata whenua and our communities.
Phase 3: Notification
(start August 2024)
  • This is the formal legal process, where we release our proposed Freshwater Plan and anyone can make a submission and then speak to the Freshwater Hearing Panel.

We decided it was better if we came out to the public with a draft rather than starting with a blank sheet of paper because:

  • We already know a lot about what our communities value about our freshwater systems through work and engagement we’ve done in the past.
  • The Freshwater Plan is really complex – and we think people will be able to provide better feedback if they can see what the whole package of provisions might look like and have something to consider.
  • We don’t have a lot of time. We are legally required to notify the Freshwater Plan (Phase 3 above) by the end of 2024.

We asked people to identify freshwater places that were important to them (such as rivers and lakes) by dropping a pin on a map and then identifying what the key values and impacts were on the site.

An overview of the Freshwater Key Values and Impacts Survey is available in the report below:

Read the media release

The Primary Sector Liaison Group (PSLG) and the Tangata Whenua Water Advisory Group (TWWAG) have both been set up to provide us with detailed advice for developing the Freshwater Plan.

The PSLG is made up of representatives from primary sector industry organisations (e.g. Fonterra, Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers, Beef & Lamb NZ, Northland Wood Council and Horticulture NZ).

The PSLG have prepared a report that outlines the current and future challenges and opportunities for the primary sector in Northland, and preliminary high-level feedback on a freshwater plan change framework provided by NRC:

The TWWAG is made up of tangata whenua technical experts with a wide range of freshwater kaitiaki expertise and experience. TWWAG was established by council on the recommendations of Te Taitokerau Māori and Council to provide advice to council from a tangata whenua perspective.

TWWAG’s focus is on the recognition of and provision for tangata whenua rights, interests and responsibilities in relation to the Freshwater Plan change guided by te Tiriti o Waitangi and tikanga Māori.

A series of reports has been developed on behalf of TWWAG to guide and inform the development of the new freshwater plan for Te Taitokerau. Read the TWWAG reports and reccommendations

Both groups have been meeting regularly since 2020.

A series of reports developed on behalf of the Tangata Whenua Water Advisory Group.

Korero mai

We want to know what tangata whenua think should be done differently when it comes to freshwater.

If your marae, hapū or iwi are keen to discuss the Freshwater Plan and let us know your views, or show us areas of wai or awa that are important to you, we can meet kanohi ki te kanohi. Get in touch and let us know what you'd like to do.

Call us: 0800 002 004 | Email us: [email protected]

This is a really great place to find more up-to-date detail about everything to do with freshwater in Te Taitokerau - www.nrc.govt.nz/freshwaterplan

A key requirement of the Freshwater Plan is the concept of Te Mana o te Wai - it is essentially about protecting the mauri of wai, and restoring the balance between water, our environment and our communities. We’ve prepared an information source specifically for tangata whenua:

These are the ways you can get involved:

  • Provide feedback on the draft Freshwater Plan (Sept – Nov 2023)
  • Make a submission on the proposed Freshwater Plan (August 2024)
  • Get in touch with the Policy and Planning team - 0800 002 004 or [email protected]
  • Receive updates from our website direct to your email inbox when changes are made to our Freshwater Plan (Essential Freshwater) information.

We recently held an online hui to korero about the freshwater plan change and how Māori can get involved. Check out the full session here: